Praising God Forever
(15) May he live (long)! May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually, and may blessings be invoked all day, every day. (16) May there be abundance of grain in the land, even on the tops of the mountains. May its fruit wave like (the cedars of) Lebanon. May those in the city flourish like the grass of the earth. (17) May his name endure forever. May his name increase as long as the sun (shines). May all nations be blessed in him. May they call him blessed. (18) Blessed (be) Yahweh God, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things! (19) Blessed (be) his glorious name forever! May the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and amen! (20) Ended are the prayers of David, the son of Jesse.
Eleven consecutive jussive (imperatival) verb forms are used in this closing segment to express the psalmist’s prayer requests. These are indicated by the helping verb, “may,” in English (vss. 15-17). The three verbs used to begin each of these opening three verses are all spelled alike with only one letter difference in Hebrew: “may he live” (vs. 15), “may there be” (vs. 16), and “may his name endure” (vs. 17).
Verses 18 & 19 both begin with the same word, “blessed,” which in both Hebrew and Arabic is “barak,” the first name of the 44th president of the United States. This same word for “blessing” is also found once in verse 15 and twice in verse 17. Several other repetitions are found in these verses. “Land/earth” occurs three times (twice in vs. 16 and again in vs. 19). The word for “name” appears in connection with God’s eternality and his glory (twice in vs. 17 and again in vs. 19). Synonyms for perpetuity fill the segment: “continually...all day, every day” (vs. 15) and “forever” (found in both vss. 17 & 19).
I. Prayers for the prosperity of the king and his kingdom (15-17)
II. Praise for God’s wondrous works (18-20)
May the king and his kingdom be forever blessed thus bring God eternal praise and glory.
“Eternity is a very long time, especially toward the end.” This quip, attributed to the film producer, Woody Allen, effectively illustrates the difficulty all of us have in grappling with the concept of “forever.” Just as a fish immersed in the sea cannot imagine what life apart from water would be like, so we who are trapped in time simply cannot imagine what it will be like to dwell in eternity in the presence of God forever.
To many this sounds rather boring. Some ask, “Do you mean we will play harps and sing praises forever?” What many fail to grasp is that, in our present state, we are not equipped to dwell in eternity or even to think about what existence beyond the dimensions of time and space will be like. The shift from time to eternity will require in each of us a complete transformation. Only with new resurrection bodies will we be ready to enjoy the heavenly realms.
Consider what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, and note how strongly he emphasized the change that will be required: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God...We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed...The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed...When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” (1 Cor. 15:50-52 & 54). O how our hearts yearn for that transformation!